Uncanny X-Men #257 – Reviews Of Old Comics

blogheaderI bought myself a membership to Marvel Unlimited Plus, a neat service Marvel offers where you can catch up on the history of the Avengers, Spider-Man, the X-Men and the like. I like the idea of reading old comics whenever the urge hits me. Thus, I decided to use this gift to do a Review of Old Comics.

So the thought comes of what I should review. Browsing through, I saw some of the events featured to read and among them was Acts of Vengeance. Individual issues are shown and at the beginning of the list are the issues of Uncanny X-Men that saw the high-profile rise of Jim Lee. Lee had drawn Alpha Flight and Punisher, but it was on Uncanny X-Men that he gained the status that made him a legend in the industry. It was his status as a fan favorite artist, along with Todd McFarlane and Rob Liefeld that gave him the power to lead an exodus from Marvel Comics just two years later and form Image Comics. All of that started with three issues of Uncanny X-Men with this comic smack in the middle of that run.

Uncanny X-Men #257

January 1990
Marvel Comics

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciller: Jim Lee
Inker: Josef Rubenstein

Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Letterers: Tom Orzechowski, Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Bob Harras
Cover Artist: Jim Lee

Synopsis:

Lady Mandarin (Psylocke) is demanding the fealty of the Hong Kong underworld for her master, the Mandarin. As they are unimpressed, they have their henchmen attack her, despite her warnings. Lady Mandarin handily defeats them with a combination of martial arts, psychic powers and the Mandarin’s rings. With their henchmen slaughtered, the crime lords have no choice but to capitulate.

In the Hong Kong harbor, Wolverine and Jubilee’s boat is boarded by harbor patrol. Using his “Patch” identity from Madripoor, Wolverine is able to bluff his way through a possible inspection. Wolverine collapses, still weak from injuries he suffered from the Reapers. He’s also hallucinating old friends Nick Fury and Carol Danvers. Jubilee is really worried about Wolverine’s ability to get her home.

In Cairo, Illinois, the young mutant that resembles Storm is on the run from authorities, convinced that the detective in charge of finding her has more sinister motives. She flees from police by getting to a hidden, high perch.

Wolverine and Jubilee visit an old friend of his, Rose, who pawns Jubilee off on her granddaughter Ruth for some shopping while she and Wolverine talk. She warns him that the Mandarin has consolidated control of the underworld. Wolverine promises that he’ll get what he needs to find the other X-Men and be on his way.

Psylocke is training against Hand soldiers. Lord Jonin teaches her a lesson by sneaking up on her. He sends her on a mission to take care of Patch, in case he is a threat from a Madripoor crime lord. 

While shopping, Jubilee and Rose’s grandaughter Ruth run into some local toughs. While they get away, they are later abducted by an unknown party. 

On Muir Island, Banshee and Forge are strengthening the island defenses. Banshee notices that something odd is happening to Moira MacTaggart. Unseen by anyone, Lorna Dane is possessed by Legion.

Back at his boat, Wolverine is wondering where Jubilee and Ruth could have gotten to. He realizes that his healing factor isn’t up to dealing with the effects of smoking, just as Hand soldiers silently board the boat. They cannot find Wolverine on board, but they do not wait long. Wolverine attacks them before they can get the jump on him. He is doing well against the Hand soldiers, but is interrupted by Jubilee’s fireworks display. He looks up to see her controlled by Lady Mandarin. When he slices off her helmet, he instantly recognizes her as his fellow X-Man, Psylocke, which stalls him just long enough for her to use her psychic knife on him. Incapacitated, Wolverine is now a prisoner of one of his deadliest foes, the Hand.

Review:

I remember when this comic came out, in the days before the Internet. Word was spreading fast that there was a new artist on X-Men that was blowing it up. I was already buying X-Men and the build up to it was a series of dour issues that saw the team completely taken apart. While Marc Silvestri was a good artist for the X-Men, Jim Lee just took the book to a new level.

The story builds in a classic three act play. In this second act, the lead character, Psylocke is reunited with her former friend, but the brainwashing that has turned her evil holds firm. Chris Claremont is a master at long form storytelling, but shows here that he can structure a main story very solidly. The story moves almost too fast, with Jonin knowing about Logan arriving, but with no word of how. An extra scene showing a Hong Kong police officer calling Jonin with the tip would have gone a long way to explaining how he knows. I also miss the Mandarin in this issue, and Claremont just explains him as being away.

Jim Lee sticks to the fundamentals here. He does not make use of the crazy layouts that he would later be known for at Wildstorm. While this version of Psylocke is cheesecake, he doesn’t draw her that way. His Wolverine is a little inconsistent at times, but overall, well done. I really like the way Joe Rubenstein inks his pencils. He spots blacks very nicely, and does a better job than most inkers that Jim Lee has had. There’s not an overabundance of extraneous lines to distract from the story and the form of the characters. The Asian characters all look unique and very few of them look like bad stereotypes.

Notes:

If you’re looking for the issue itself, then you should be able to find it with a little searching. It will cost a few dollars, but I would not recommend paying more than ten dollars for it. Digitally, it’s only a couple of bucks.

This issue has been collected in the X-Men by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee Omnibus (ISBN: 0785158227) and Acts of Vengeance Crossovers (ISBN: 0785144889). Of course, you could just do what I did and read it online via Marvel Unlimited.

Final Rating: 9.0 (out of 10)

It’s very good. The excitement of Jim Lee’s style carries through well. The story has weaknesses, but they are just parts that I want to make the story meatier. What is here is solid.